Censor Watch

2019: April

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Extract: Worldwide censors...

Facebook, Google and co seem to be pooling their resources to create a shared database of images, files, URLs and website links that should be blocked from being uploaded by users


Link Here 20th April 2019

In the aftermath of the horrific mosque attack in New Zealand, internet companies were interrogated  over their efforts to censor the livestream video of Brenton Tarrant's propaganda.

Some of their responses have included ideas that point in a disturbing direction: toward increasingly centralized and opaque censorship of the global internet.

Facebook, for example, describes plans for an expanded role for the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, or GIFCT. The GIFCT is an industry-led self-regulatory effort launched in 2017 by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube. One of its flagship projects is a shared database of hashes of files identified by the participating companies to be extreme and egregious terrorist content. The hash database allows participating companies (which include giants like YouTube and one-man operations like JustPasteIt) to automatically identify when a user is trying to upload content already in the database.

In Facebook's post-Christchurch updates, the company discloses that it added 800 new hashes to the database, all related to the Christchurch video. It also mentions that the GIFCT is experimenting with sharing URLs systematically rather than just content hashes --that is, creating a centralized list of URLs that would facilitate widespread blocking of videos, accounts, and potentially entire websites or forums.

See the full article from wired.com

 

 

Smart phones only for porn viewing?...

VPNCompare reports a significant increase in website visitors in response to upcoming porn censorship. Meanwhile age verifications options announced so far for major websites seem to be apps only


Link Here 20th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
VPNCompare is reporting that internet users in Britain are responding to the upcoming porn censorship regime by investigating the option to get a VPN so as to workaround most age verification requirements without handing over dangerous identity details.

VPNCompare says that the number of UK visitors to its website has increased by 55% since the start date of the censorship scheme was announced. The website also sated that Google searches for VPNs had trippled. Website editor, Christopher Seward told the Independent:

We saw a 55 per cent increase in UK visitors alone compared to the same period the previous day. As the start date for the new regime draws closer, we can expect this number to rise even further and the number of VPN users in the UK is likely to go through the roof.

The UK Government has completely failed to consider the fact that VPNs can be easily used to get around blocks such as these.

Whilst the immediate assumption is that porn viewers will reach for a VPN to avoid handing over dangerous identity information, there may be another reason to take out a VPN, a lack of choice of appropriate options for age validation.

3 companies run the 6 biggest adult websites. Mindgeek owns Pornhub, RedTube and Youporn. Then there is Xhamster and finally Xvideos and xnxx are connected.

Now Mindgeek has announced that it will partner with Portes Card for age verification, which has options for identity verification, giving a age verified mobile phone number, or else buying  a voucher in a shop and showing age ID to the shop keeper (which is hopefully not copied or recorded).

Meanwhile Xhamster has announced that it is partnering with 1Account which accepts a verified mobile phone, credit card, debit card, or UK drivers licence. It does not seem to have an option for anonymous verification beyond a phone being age verified without having to show ID.

Perhaps most interestingly is that both of these age verifiers are smart phone based apps. Perhaps the only option for people without a phone is to get a VPN. I also spotted that most age verification providers that I have looked at seem to be only interested in UK cards, drivers licences or passports. I'd have thought there may be legal issues in not accepting EU equivalents. But foreigners may also be in the situation of not being able to age verify and so need a VPN.

And of course the very fact that is no age verification option common to the major porn website then it may just turn out to be an awful lot simpler just to get a VPN.

 

 

Offsite Article: User's Behaving Badly...


Link Here 20th April 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
An interesting look at the government's Online Harms white paper proposing extensive internet censorship for the UK

See article from cyberleagle.com

 

 

Is it safe?...

Is your identity data and porn browsing history safe with an age verification service sporting a green BBFC AV badge?...Err...No!...


Link Here 19th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The Interrogator :

Is it safe?

The BBFC (on its Age Verification website)...err...no!...:

An assessment and accreditation under the AVC is not a guarantee that the age-verification provider and its solution (including its third party companies) comply with the relevant legislation and standards, or that all data is safe from malicious or criminal interference.

Accordingly the BBFC shall not be responsible for any losses, damages, liabilities or claims of whatever nature, direct or indirect, suffered by any age-verification provider, pornography services or consumers/ users of age-verification provider's services or pornography services or any other person as a result of their reliance on the fact that an age-verification provider has been assessed under the scheme and has obtained an Age-verification Certificate or otherwise in connection with the scheme.

 

 

The right to be silent...

Facebook bans several UK far right groups


Link Here 19th April 2019
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

Facebook has banned far-right groups including the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL) from having any presence on the social network. The banned groups, which also includes Knights Templar International, Britain First and the National Front as well as key members of their leadership, have been removed from both Facebook or Instagram.

Facebook said it uses an extensive process to determine which people or groups it designates as dangerous, using signals such as whether they have used hate speech, and called for or directly carried out acts of violence against others based on factors such as race, ethnicity or national origin.

Offsite comment: How to fight the new fascism

19th April 2019. See article from spiked-online.com by Andrew Doyle

This week we have seen David Lammy doubling down on his ludicrous comparison of the European Research Group with the Nazi party, and Chris Key in the Independent calling for UKIP and the newly formed Brexit Party to be banned from television debates. It is clear that neither Key nor Lammy have a secure understanding of what far right actually means and, quite apart from the distasteful nature of such political opportunism, their strategy only serves to generate the kind of resentment upon which the far right depends.

Offsite comment: Facebook is calling for Centralized Censorship. That Should Scare You

19th April 2019. See article from wired.com by Emma Llansó

If we're going to have coherent discussions about the future of our information environment, we--the public, policymakers, the media, website operators--need to understand the technical realities and policy dynamics that shaped the response to the Christchurch massacre. But some of these responses have also included ideas that point in a disturbing direction: toward increasingly centralized and opaque censorship of the global interne

 

 

Updated: Court Battleground...

Nepal bans the internet game PlayerUnknown's Battleground


Link Here 19th April 2019
PlayerUnknown's Battleground is a 2017 South Korea Battle Royale by PUBG Corporation

Nepal Telecommunication Authority has directed all the country's ISPs to ban PlayerUnknown's Battleground, commonly known PUBG, a popular multiplayer internet game.

The Metropolitan Crime Division had filed a Public Interest Litigation at the Kathmandu District Court seeking permission to ban PUBG claiming that the game was having a negative effect on the behaviour and study of children and youths. The district court gave permission to ban PUBG the same day.

Senior Superintendent of Police Dhiraj Pratap Singh, chief of the Metropolitan Crime Division said:

We received a number of complaints from parents, schools and school associations regarding the effect of the game on children. We also held discussions with psychiatrists before requesting the Kathmandu District Court for permission to ban the game.

Update: Iraqi parliamentarians call for a ban

15th April 2019. See  article from en.radiofarda.com

Iraq's cultural parliamentary committee has submitted a draft on April 13th, 2019 suggesting to ban PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. The draft proposal would have to go through a draft review by parliamentary speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi.

The head of the culture committee, Sameaa Gullab, commented:

The committee is concerned about the obsession over these electronic games that ignite violence among children and youth. Its influence has spread rapidly among Iraq's society. We are proposing to parliament to block and ban all games that threaten social security, morality, education and all segments of Iraqi society.

Iraqi media reported incidents of suicide and divorce related to the games during the last year. Local media reporting on the craze has claimed it has led to nearly 40,000 divorces worldwide and more than 20 cases in Iraq.

The parliamentary censorship call also cites the suicide game Blue Whale , which has been a problem for some regions for quite some time.

 Update: Iraq confirms ban of PUBG and Fortnite

19th April 2019. See article from pcgamer.com

Iraq's parliament has voted to ban the popular battle royale games Fortnite and Playerunknown's Battlegrounds because of their supposed detrimental influence on the population.

A Reuters report says the ban was put into place due to the negative effects caused by some electronic games on the health, culture, and security of Iraqi society, including societal and moral threats to children and youth.

Reaction to the ban was widely negative, according to the report, but not because people are angry that they can't play Fortnite. They may be, but the real issue is that Iraqis apparently see the ban as a emblematic of the government's misplaced priorities: While Iraq continues to struggle with sectarian violence, inadequate infrastructure, and political instability, the country's parliament has only managed to pass one piece of legislation since sitting in September 2018.

 

 

Spanish infant school bans books it considers sexist or stereotypical...

Why are wolves always depicted as the bad guys?


Link Here 19th April 2019
A Barcelona school has removed 200 children's books it considers sexist including Little Red Riding Hood and the story of the legend of Saint George, from its library.

The Tàber school's infant library of around 600 children's books was reviewed by the Associació Espai i Lleure as part of a project that aims to highlight hidden sexist content . The group reviewed the characters in each book, whether or not they speak and what roles they perform, finding that 30% of the books were highly sexist, had strong stereotypes and were, in its opinion, of no pedagogical value.

According to Associació Espai i Lleure, if young children see "strongly stereotypical" depictions of relationships and behaviours in what they read, they will consider them normal. Anna Tutzó, a parent who is on the commission that reviewed the books, told El País that "society is changing and is more aware of the issue of gender, but this is not being reflected in stories". Masculinity is associated with competitiveness and courage, and "in violent situations, even though they are just small pranks, it is the boy who acts against the girl", which "sends a message about who can be violent and against whom".

 

 

Offsite Article: EU copyright reform: Our fight was not in vain...


Link Here 19th April 2019
Full story: Copyright in the EU...Copyright law for Europe
By Julia Reda, the heroic MEP who fought against this disgraceful censorship law

See article from juliareda.eu

 

 

Offsite Article: Discordant censorship...


Link Here 19th April 2019
The Online Censorship Machine Is Revving Up: Here Are a Few (Guitar) Lessons Learned. By Dylan Gilbert

See article from publicknowledge.org

 

 

Offsite Article: Re-educating westerners who post about re-education camps...


Link Here 19th April 2019
Full story: China International Censors...China pressures other countries into censorship
How Chinese internet trolls go after Beijing's critics overseas

See article from edition.cnn.com

 

 

Inevitably asking the impossible of small EU companies and further advantaging US giants...

European Parliament removes requirement for internet companies to pre-censor user posts for terrorist content but approves a one hour deadline for content removal when asked by national authorities


Link Here 18th April 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU introduces swathes of internet censorship law
The European Parliament has approved a draft version of new EU internet censorship law targeting terrorist content.

In particular the MEPs approved the imposition of a one-hour deadline to remove content marked for censorship by various national organisations. However the MEPs did not approve a key section of the law requiring internet companies to pre-process and censor terrorsit content prior to upload.

A European Commission official told the BBC changes made to the text by parliament made the law ineffective. The Commission will now try to restore the pre-censorship requirement with the new parliament when it is elected.

The law would affect social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which could face fines of up to 4% of their annual global turnover. What does the law say?

In amendments, the European Parliament said websites would not be forced to monitor the information they transmit or store, nor have to actively seek facts indicating illegal activity.  It said the competent authority should give the website information on the procedures and deadlines 12 hours before the agreed one-hour deadline the first time an order is issued.

In February, German MEP Julia Reda of the European Pirate Party said the legislation risked the surrender of our fundamental freedoms [and] undermines our liberal democracy. Ms Reda welcomed the changes brought by the European Parliament but said the one-hour deadline was unworkable for platforms run by individual or small providers.

 

 

Infernal censorship...

Russia censors references to Stalin in the new Hellboy remake


Link Here 18th April 2019
Hellboy is a 2019 USA action Sci-Fi fantasy by Neil Marshall.
Starring Daniel Dae Kim, Milla Jovovich and David Harbour. BBFC link IMDb

Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.

The latest remake of Hellboy hit Russian cinemas on 11 April. However, audiences in Russia discovered that in their version of the film a reference to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had been changed to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

[ Spoilers! hover or click text below]
In a line of expository dialogue, the film's titular character reveals that one of the supporting antagonists, Russian folklore character Baba Yaga, once attempted to resurrect the spirit of Stalin.

The original line, uttered by Hellboy upon confronting Baba Yaga, is: I recall you tried to raise Stalin's ghost from a necropolis.

In the film's Russian-language version, according to small independent TV channel Dozhd, the line goes: I want to remind you, you tried to raise Hitler's spirit from a necropolis.

Theatres screening the English-language version of the film complemented it with Russian subtitles. During this scene, the audio for Stalin's name was bleeped, while the subtitles said Hitler.

In addition a Russian swearword was removed (but swear words in English were allowed to remain).

In Russia, the film received an 18 rating compared with the BBFC's 15 rating and the MPAA's R rating.

 

 

Alexa, stop being creepy...

Privacy International write to Jeff Bezos of Amazon about the revelation that employees are listening in on Echo conversations


Link Here 18th April 2019

Last week, an investigation by Bloomberg revealed that thousands of Amazon employees around the world are listening in on Amazon Echo users.

As we have been explaining across media, we believe that by using default settings and vague privacy policies which allow Amazon employees to listen in on the recordings of users' interactions with their devices, Amazon risks deliberately deceiving its customers.

Amazon has so far been dismissive, arguing that people had the options to opt out from the sharing of their recordings -- although it is unclear how their customers could have done so if they were not aware this was going on in the first place.

Even those who had read the privacy policy would have had a hard time interpreting "We use your requests to Alexa to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems" to mean that thousands of employees are each listening up to a thousand recordings per day. And sharing file recordings with one another they find to be "amusing".

As a result, today we wrote to Jeff Bezos to let him know we think Amazon needs to step up and do a lot better to protect the privacy of their customers.

If you use an Amazon Echo device and are concerned about this, read our instructions on how to opt out here .

Dear Mr. Bezos,

We are writing to call for your urgent action regarding last week's report [1] in Bloomberg, which revealed that Amazon has been employing thousands of workers to listen in on the recordings of Amazon Echo users.

Privacy International (PI) is a registered charity based in London that works at the intersection of modern technologies and rights. Privacy International challenges overreaching state and corporate surveillance, so that people everywhere can have greater security and freedom through greater personal privacy.

The Bloomberg investigation asserts that Amazon employs thousands of staff around the world to listen to voice recordings captured by the Amazon Alexa. Among other examples, the report states that your employees use internal chat rooms to share files when they "come across an amusing recording", and that they share "distressing" recordings -- including one of a sexual assault.

Currently, your privacy policy states: "We use your requests to Alexa to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems." We are concerned that your customers could not reasonably assume from such a statement that recordings of their interactions with the Amazon Echo could, by default, be listened to by your employees.

An ambiguous privacy policy and default settings that allow your employees to access recordings of all interactions is not our idea of consent. Instead, we believe the default settings should be there to protect your users' privacy.

Millions of customers enjoy your product and they deserve better from you. As such, we ask whether you will:

  • Notify all users whose recordings have been accessed, and describe to them which recordings;

  • Notify all users whenever their recordings are accessed in the future, and describe to them which recordings;

  • Modify the settings of the Amazon Echo so that "Help Develop New Features" and "Use Messages to Improve Transcriptions" are turned off by default;

  • Clarify your privacy policy so that it is clear to users that employees are listening to the recordings when the "Help Develop New Features" and "Use Messages to Improve Transcriptions" settings are on.

In your response to the Bloomberg investigation, you state you take the privacy of your customer seriously. It is now time for you to step up and walk the walk. We look forward to engaging with you further on this.

Sincerely yours,
Eva Blum-Dumontet

 

 

Down voted...

Reddit bans adult advertising


Link Here 18th April 2019
Reddit is a social media website that boasts 234 million members and approximately 8 billion page views per month.

Reddit's system is naturally built to highlight online influencers; all posts are automatically submitted to a voting process: The most up-voted messages receive the most visibility.

The site has a very passionate following and advertising on Reddit can be very successful. Companies are able to promote top posts to a very targeted audience, directly on its front page.

On Tuesday, Reddit posted an update about their Not Suitable for Work Advertising Policy. From now on, the platform doesn't allow any adult-oriented ads and targeting. Promoted posts pushing adult products or services are no longer permissible and NSFW subreddits will no longer be eligible for ads or targeting.

The new policy targets specifically targets pornographic and sexually explicit content as well as adult sexual recreational content, product and services.

 

 

Offsite Article: Age verification won't block porn...


Link Here 18th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
But it will spell the end of ethical porn. By Girl on the Net

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Easier than searching your house...


Link Here 18th April 2019
Police Can Download All Your Smartphone's Data Without A Warrant

See article from rightsinfo.org

 

 

Get a VPN or fill your boots now! There's 3 months left for unhindered porn downloading...

The government announces that its internet porn censorship scheme will come into force on 15th July 2019


Link Here 17th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on 15 July 2019.

It means that commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users, to ensure that they are 18 or over.

Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. They have confirmed that they will begin enforcement on 15 July, following an implementation period to allow websites time to comply with the new standards.

Minister for Digital Margot James said that she wanted the UK to be the most censored place in the world to b eonline:

Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we've taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.

Government has listened carefully to privacy concerns and is clear that age-verification arrangements should only be concerned with verifying age, not identity. In addition to the requirement for all age-verification providers to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards, the BBFC have created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of AV providers. The AVC has been developed in cooperation with industry, with input from government.

Certified age-verification solutions which offer these robust data protection conditions will be certified following an independent assessment and will carry the BBFC's new green 'AV' symbol. Details will also be published on the BBFC's age-verification website, ageverificationregulator.com so consumers can make an informed choice between age-verification providers.

BBFC Chief Executive David Austin said:

The introduction of age-verification to restrict access to commercial pornographic websites to adults is a ground breaking child protection measure. Age-verification will help prevent children from accessing pornographic content online and means the UK is leading the way in internet safety.

On entry into force, consumers will be able to identify that an age-verification provider has met rigorous security and data checks if they carry the BBFC's new green 'AV' symbol.

The change in law is part of the Government's commitment to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, especially for children. It follows last week's publication of the Online Harms White Paper which set out clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe online, how these responsibilities should be met and what would happen if they are not.

 

 

Proven privacy concerns...

When spouting on about keeping porn users data safe the DCMS proves that it simply can't be trusted by revealing journalists' private emails


Link Here 17th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
 
  
 Believe us, we can cure all society's ills
 

A government department responsible for data protection laws has shared the private contact details of hundreds of journalists.

The Department for Censorship, Media and Sport emailed more than 300 recipients in a way that allowed their addresses to be seen by other people.

The email - seen by the BBC - contained a press release about age verifications for adult websites .

Digital Minister Margot James said the incident was embarrassing. She added:

It was an error and we're evaluating at the moment whether that was a breach of data protection law.

In the email sent on Wednesday, the department claimed new rules would offer robust data protection conditions, adding: Government has listened carefully to privacy concerns.

 

 

Less jiggle...

Sony now censor sexuality in games to placate the #MeToo mob


Link Here 17th April 2019
Sony has confirmed a new set of  censorship rules toning down sexually themed games on the PlayStation 4.

A Sony spokeswoman confirmed the company has established its own guidelines 'so that gaming 'does not inhibit the sound growth and development' of young people. This is allegedly a result of executives at the company being afraid the sale of sexually explicit games might hurt its global reputation.

According to the Wall Street Journal, One of their biggest concerns is software sold in the company's home market of Japan, which traditionally has had more tolerance for near-nudity and images of young women.

The Wall Street Journal points to two main reasons for the new policy based on its conversations with unnamed Sony officials. The first is the rise of the #MeToo movement. The second is the growing ubiquity of streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube where sexually explicit games coming out of Japan can find a global audience.

Sony is concerned the company could become a target of legal and social action, a Sony official in the U.S. told the Wall Street Journal.

The new guidelines are in contrast to Nintendo, which told the Wall Street Journal that sexually explicit games can be sold on the Switch as long they receive a rating from a national ratings agency.

An example of the news rules is the adult visual novel Nekopara Vol. 1 , which includes partial nudity and the option to pet female characters using a virtual cursor, released on Nintendo Switch last summer with a rating of Mature 17+ while the PS4 version was delayed until November. When it finally came out, fans reported several changes that made it less sexually explicit, including extra steam in bath scenes and the removal of a slider players could use in the other versions to make characters' breasts jiggle more.

 

 

Twitter unliked...

Responding to the large amount of aggressive tweeting, founder Jack Dorsey says that the number of likes will soon be downgraded


Link Here 17th April 2019
Full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has said again there is much work to do to improve Twitter and cut down on the amount of abuse and misinformation on the platform. He said the firm might demote likes and follows, adding that in hindsight he would not have designed the platform to highlight these.

Speaking at the TED technology conference he said that Twitter currently incentivised people to post outrage. Instead he said it should invite people to unite around topics and communities. Rather than focus on following individual accounts, users could be encouraged to follow hashtags, trends and communities.

Doing so would require a systematic change that represented a huge shift for Twitter.

One of the choices we made was to make the number of people that follow you big and bold. If I started Twitter now I would not emphasise follows and I would not create likes. We have to look at how we display follows and likes, he added.

 

 

Rejection...

Kenyan chief censor bans the song Taka Taka by Alvin


Link Here 17th April 2019
The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) chief censor Ezekiel Mutua has officially banned the viral song dubbed Takataka by upcoming rapper Alvin aka Alvindo.

Mutua blacklisted the song claiming that it is obscene and has degrading lyrics that advocate for violence against women by equating them to trash. Mutua described the song as primitive and abusive saying that the song has crude lyrics that objectifies women and glorifies hurting them as a normal reaction to the rejection of overtures by men. He added:

KFCB will institute criminal proceedings against the artist in 14 days if he fails to respond to our summons for a meeting where he can be accompanied by his lawyer.

Mutua added that the song was never submitted to the board for classification in the first place while urging artists and media houses to create and exhibit content that builds society.

Broadcasting, exhibition, distribution (including online) or possession of 'Takataka' is a criminal offence. This song should not be performed live or broadcast anywhere within the Republic of Kenya, said Mutua.

The song currently has 1 million views on Youtube .

 

 

Offsite Article: Banish the kids...


Link Here 17th April 2019
Instead of regulating the internet to protect young people, give them a youth-net of their own. By Conor Friedersdorf

See article from theatlantic.com

 

 

Offsite Article: No friend of privacy...


Link Here 17th April 2019
Full story: Facebook Privacy...Facebook criticised for discouraging privacy
A German data protection organisation finds that Facebook does not obtain the required user consent for it Custom Audience service

See article from netzpolitik.org

 

 

European livelihoods laid to waste...

Link taxes and censorship machines pass the final stage of European legislation


Link Here 16th April 2019
Full story: Copyright in the EU...Copyright law for Europe
The EU Council of Ministers has approved the Copyright Directive, which includes the link tax and censorship machines. The legislation was voted through by a majority of EU ministers despite noble opposition from Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland, and Sweden.

As explained by Julia Reda MEP, a majority of 55% of Member States, representing 65% of the population, was required to adopt the legislation. That was easily achieved with 71.26% in favor, so the Copyright Directive will now pass into law.

As the image above shows, several countries voted against adoption, including Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland, and Sweden. Belgium, Estonia, and Slovenia absta ined.

But in the final picture that just wasn't enough, with both Germany and the UK voting in favor, the Copyright Directive is now adopted.

EU member states will now have two years to implement the law, which requires platforms like YouTube to sign licensing agreements with creators in order to use their content. If that is not possible, they will have to ensure that infringing content uploaded by users is taken down and not re-uploaded to their services.

The entertainment lobby will not stop here, over the next two years, they will push for national implementations that ignore users' fundamental rights, comments Julia Reda:

It will be more important than ever for civil society to keep up the pressure in the Member States!

 

 

Religious hatred...

Channel 44 fined 75,000 by Ofcom for hate speech directed at Ahmadiyya muslims


Link Here 16th April 2019
Full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check

Ofcom has imposed a £75,000 fine on City News Network for failing to provide adequate protection for viewers.

The service Channel 44 -- an Urdu-language news and current affairs channel -- broadcast hate speech and material containing abusive treatment of the Ahmadiyya community.

Under the Broadcasting Code, licensees must not broadcast material which contains uncontextualised hate speech and abusive treatment of groups, religions or communities.

After an investigation, Ofcom concluded that the serious nature of the breaches of the Broadcasting Code warranted the imposition of statutory sanctions. These include a financial penalty and a direction to the broadcaster to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.

The fine of £75,000 will be paid by City News Network to HM Paymaster General.

 

 

An unprecedented attack on press freedom in Australia...

Mass prosecution of media companies and staff who alluded to the conviction of George Pell when the court demanded secrecy


Link Here 16th April 2019
Full story: News Censorship in Australia...Government reforms on news media censorship

In an unprecedented attack on press freedom in Australia, 23 journalists and 13 media outlets have been hit with charges relating to the child sexual abuse trial of Catholic cardinal George Pell. The accused include Australia's two biggest newspaper companies, Rupert Murdoch's Nationwide News and the former Fairfax group now owned by broadcaster Nine, as well as leading newspaper editors and reporters.

The media and reporters are accused of abetting contempt of court by the foreign press and of scandalising the court by breaching a gagging order, despite none of them reporting on the charges involved or mentioning Pell by name. The court had banned all reporting of the case pending a second trial that was later cancelled.

Some foreign media, including The New York Times and the Washington Post , reported Pell's conviction in December, while local media ran cryptic articles complaining that they were being prevented from reporting a story of major public interest.

Matthew Collins, representing the accused media at the first hearing on the matter today, said such wide-ranging contempt charges had no precedent in Australian legal history. Collins added that a guilty verdict on any of the charges would have a chilling effect on open justice in Australia. He insisted that the contempt allegations lacked specific examples of how any of the accused news companies or journalists actually breached the gag order when they never mentioned Pell or the crimes for which he was convicted.

 

 

The internet is seizing up...

TikTok video sharing app has tried to clean up its act after getting into trouble in an Indian court


Link Here 16th April 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
Video-sharing app TikTok has introduced an age gate feature for new users, which it claims will only allow those aged 13 years and above to create an account. TikTok also declared that it has removed more than six million videos that were in violation of its community guidelines.

TikTok is said to be based in more than 20 countries, including India, and covers major Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Gujarati.

The app was banned by the Madras High Court earlier this month, chiefly on the ground that it posed a danger to children. The court said the app contained degrading culture, and that it encouraged pornography and pedophilia.

In February, TikTok was fined $5.7 million by the US Federal Trade Commission for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal information of children below 13 years without parental consent.

As of April 15, the app remains available for download on Google's Play Store. TikTok's push for user safety

 

 

Offsite Article: Has the R-rated superhero flick lost its powers?...


Link Here 16th April 2019
Deadpool opened up the market for ultra-violent, profane superheroes, but the new Hellboy's box-office nose dive shows they need more than shock value

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Does destroying the livelihoods of parents protect the children?...

ICO announces another swathe of internet censorship and age verification requirements in the name of 'protecting the children'


Link Here 15th April 2019
This is the biggest censorship event of the year. It is going destroy the livelihoods of many. It is framed as if it were targeted at Facebook and the like, to sort out their abuse of user data, particularly for kids.

However the kicker is that the regulations will equally apply to all UK accessed websites that earn at least earn some money and process user data in some way or other.  Even small websites will then be required to default to treating all their readers as children and only allow more meaningful interaction with them if they verify themselves as adults. The default kids-only mode bans likes, comments, suggestions, targeted advertising etc, even for non adult content.

Furthermore the ICO expects websites to formally comply with the censorship rules using market researchers, lawyers, data protection officers, expert consultants, risk assessors and all the sort of people that cost a grand a day.

Of course only the biggest players will be able to afford the required level of red tape and instead of hitting back at Facebook, Google, Amazon and co for misusing data, they will further add to their monopoly position as they will be the only companies big enough to jump over the government's child protection hurdles.

Another dark day for British internet users and businesses.

The ICO write in a press release

Today we're setting out the standards expected of those responsible for designing, developing or providing online services likely to be accessed by children, when they process their personal data.

Parents worry about a lot of things. Are their children eating too much sugar, getting enough exercise or doing well at school. Are they happy?

In this digital age, they also worry about whether their children are protected online. You can log on to any news story, any day to see just how children are being affected by what they can access from the tiny computers in their pockets.

Last week the Government published its white paper covering online harms.

Its proposals reflect people's growing mistrust of social media and online services. While we can all benefit from these services, we are also increasingly questioning how much control we have over what we see and how our information is used.

There has to be a balancing act: protecting people online while embracing the opportunities that digital innovation brings.

And when it comes to children, that's more important than ever. In an age when children learn how to use a tablet before they can ride a bike, making sure they have the freedom to play, learn and explore in the digital world is of paramount importance.

The answer is not to protect children from the digital world, but to protect them within it.

So today we're setting out the standards expected of those responsible for designing, developing or providing online services likely to be accessed by children, when they process their personal data. Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services has been published for consultation.

When finalised, it will be the first of its kind and set an international benchmark.

It will leave online service providers in no doubt about what is expected of them when it comes to looking after children's personal data. It will help create an open, transparent and protected place for children when they are online.

Organisations should follow the code and demonstrate that their services use children's data fairly and in compliance with data protection law. Those that don't, could face enforcement action including a fine or an order to stop processing data.

Introduced by the Data Protection Act 2018, the code sets out 16 standards of age appropriate design for online services like apps, connected toys, social media platforms, online games, educational websites and streaming services, when they process children's personal data. It's not restricted to services specifically directed at children.

The code says that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration when designing and developing online services. It says that privacy must be built in and not bolted on.

Settings must be "high privacy" by default (unless there's a compelling reason not to); only the minimum amount of personal data should be collected and retained; children's data should not usually be shared; geolocation services should be switched off by default. Nudge techniques should not be used to encourage children to provide unnecessary personal data, weaken or turn off their privacy settings or keep on using the service. It also addresses issues of parental control and profiling.

The code is out for consultation until 31 May. We will draft a final version to be laid before Parliament and we expect it to come into effect before the end of the year.

Our Code of Practice is a significant step, but it's just part of the solution to online harms. We see our work as complementary to the current initiatives on online harms, and look forward to participating in discussions regarding the Government's white paper.

The proposals are now open for public consultation:

The Information Commissioner is seeking feedback on her draft code of practice Age appropriate design -- a code of practice for online services likely to be accessed by children (the code).

The code will provide guidance on the design standards that the Commissioner will expect providers of online 'Information Society Services' (ISS), which process personal data and are likely to be accessed by children, to meet.

The code is now out for public consultation and will remain open until 31 May 2019. The Information Commissioner welcomes feedback on the specific questions set out below.

You can respond to this consultation via our online survey , or you can download the document below and email to ageappropriatedesign@ico.org.uk .

lternatively, print off the document and post to:

Age appropriate design code consultation
Policy Engagement Department
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

 

 

Comments: An unelected quango introducing draconian limitations on the internet...

Responses to the ICO internet censorship proposals


Link Here 15th April 2019

Comment: Entangling start ups in red tape

See article from adamsmith.org

Today the Information Commissioner's Office announced a consultation on a draft Code of Practice to help protect children online.

The code forbids the creation of profiles on children, and bans data sharing and nudges of children. Importantly, the code also requires everyone be treated like a child unless they undertake robust age-verification.

The ASI believes that this code will entangle start-ups in red tape, and inevitably end up with everyone being treated like children, or face undermining user privacy by requiring the collection of credit card details or passports for every user.

Matthew Lesh, Head of Research at free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute, says:

This is an unelected quango introducing draconian limitations on the internet with the threat of massive fines.

This code requires all of us to be treated like children.

An internet-wide age verification scheme, as required by the code, would seriously undermine user privacy. It would require the likes of Facebook, Google and thousands of other sites to repeatedly collect credit card and passport details from millions of users. This data collection risks our personal information and online habits being tracked, hacked and exploited.

There are many potential unintended consequences. The media could be forced to censor swathes of stories not appropriate for young people. Websites that cannot afford to develop 'children-friendly' services could just block children. It could force start-ups to move to other countries that don't have such stringent laws.

This plan would seriously undermine the business model of online news and many other free services by making it difficult to target advertising to viewer interests. This would be both worse for users, who are less likely to get relevant advertisements, and journalism, which is increasingly dependent on the revenues from targeted online advertising.

The Government should take a step back. It is really up to parents to keep their children safe online.

Offsite Comment: Web shake-up could force ALL websites to treat us like children

15th April 2019. See article from dailymail.co.uk

The information watchdog has been accused of infantilising web users, in a draconian new code designed to make the internet safer for children.

Web firms will be forced to introduce strict new age checks on their websites -- or treat all their users as if they are children, under proposals published by the Information Commissioner's Office today.

The rules are so stringent that critics fear people could end up being forced to demonstrate their age for virtually every website they visit, or have the services that they can access limited as if they are under 18.

 

 

Prime suspects...

The Government is already considering its next step for increased internet censorship


Link Here 15th April 2019
The ink has yet dried on two enormous packaged of internet censorship and yet the Government is already planning the next.

The Government is considering an overhaul of censorship rules for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The Daily Telegraph understands that the Department for Cesnorship, Media and Sport is looking at whether censorship rules for on-demand video streaming sites should extended to those suffered by traditional broadcasters.

Cesnorship Secretary Jeremy Wright had signaled this could be a future focus for DCMS last month, saying rules for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video were not as robust as they were for other broadcasters.

Public service broadcasters currently have set requirements to commission content from within the UK. The BBC, for example, must ensure that UK-made shows make up a substantial proportion of its content, and around 50% of that content must come from outside the M25 area.

No such rules, over specific UK-made content, currently apply to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, though . The European Union is currently finalising the details of rules for the bloc, which require streaming companies to ensure at least 30% of their libraries are dedicated to content made by EU-member states.

 

 

Would you stake your identity on a 10 quid free bet?...

Age verification will become full identity verification for online gambling sites from 7th May


Link Here 15th April 2019
Age verification for online gambling is set to evolve into full identity verification from 7th May 2019. The other big change is that all verification will have to be completed prior to any bets being placed. Previously age verification was required only when people tried to withdraw their winnings. There were many complaints that gambling companies would then inflict onerous validation requirements to try and avoid paying out.

I would hazard a guess that the new implementation will quash an awful lot of the TV end media adverts that try and get new members with a small joiners bonus. Now it will be a lot more hassle to join, and maybe there will be less interest in trying out new websites just to get a free introductory bet.

Here is an example explanation of the new rules: see article from eyesdownbingo.com

 

 

Offsite Article: Turning facts into opinions...


Link Here 15th April 2019
An insightful and convincing view about 'filter bubbles', suggesting that presenting alternative views will do nothing to address the perceived problem.

See article from baekdal.com

 

 

More like China, Russia or North Korea...

Tory MPs line up to criticise their own government's totalitarian-style internet censorship proposals


Link Here 14th April 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media

Ministers are facing a growing and deserved backlash against draconian new web laws which will lead to totalitarian-style censorship.

The stated aim of the Online Harms White Paper is to target offensive material such as terrorists' beheading videos. But under the document's provisions, the UK internet censor would have complete discretion to decide what is harmful, hateful or bullying -- potentially including coverage of contentious issues such as transgender rights.

After MPs lined up to demand a rethink, Downing Street has put pressure on Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright to narrow the definition of harm in order to exclude typical editorial content.

MPs have been led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said last night that while it was obviously a worthwhile aim to rid the web of the evils of terrorist propaganda and child pornography, it should not be at the expense of crippling a free Press and gagging healthy public expression. He added that the regulator could be used as a tool of repression by a future Jeremy Corbyn-led government, saying:

Sadly, the Online Harms White Paper appears to give the Home Secretary of the day the power to decide the rules as to which content is considered palatable. Who is to say that less scrupulous governments in the future would not abuse this new power?

I fear this could have the unintended consequence of reputable newspaper websites being subjected to quasi-state control. British newspapers freedom to hold authority to account is an essential bulwark of our democracy.

We must not now allow what amounts to a Leveson-style state-controlled regulator for the Press by the back door.

He was backed by Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the Tory Party's powerful backbench 1922 Committee, who said:

We need to protect people from the well-documented evils of the internet -- not in order to suppress views or opinions to which they might object.

In last week's Mail on Sunday, former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale warned that the legislation was more usually associated with autocratic regimes including those in China, Russia or North Korea.

Tory MP Philip Davies joined the criticism last night, saying:

Of course people need to be protected from the worst excesses of what takes place online. But equally, free speech in a free country is very, very important too. It's vital we strike the right balance. While I have every confidence that Sajid Javid as Home Secretary would strike that balance, can I have the same confidence that a future Marxist government would not abuse the proposed new powers?

And Tory MP Martin Vickers added:

While we must take action to curb the unregulated wild west of the internet, we must not introduce state control of the Press as a result.

 

 

The beer of gods...

Rajan Zed continues his world campaign against a large number of world beers that reference hinduism


Link Here 14th April 2019
Full story: Rajan Zed...Taking easy offence at hindu imagery
Perennial whinger Rajan Zed is urging the Amsterdam micro-brewer Walhalla to withdraw its Shakti double India pale ale, calling it highly inappropriate.

He said that inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt hindu devotees.

Shakti was highly venerated in Hinduism since Vedic times and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer. Zed stated that it was deeply trivializing of immensely revered Goddess to be portrayed on a beer label like this,

 

 

Offsite Article: We don't care what the EU wants, let us see who owns websites...


Link Here 14th April 2019
Full story: EU GDPR law...Far reaching privay protection law
US copyright holders lobby domain registry overseer ICANN to end its temporary observance of the EU's GDPR privacy laws

See article from torrentfreak.com

 

 

Leaks plugged...

Julian Assange of Wikileaks has been arrested in London


Link Here 14th April 2019
Full story: Wikileaks...Wikileaks whistle blowing and state secrets
Wikileaks was a whistle blowing website that shone a light on how governments of the world have been running our lives. And it was not a pretty sight.

Julian Assange who ran Wikileaks, is surely a freedom of speech hero, however he broke many serious state secret laws and has been evading the authorities via diplomatic immunity afforded to him by the Ecuadorean embassy in London. This has now been rescinded and Assange has been duly arrested. He is now in serious trouble and will surely end up being sent to the USA to answer the accusations.

It is hard to see that the prosecuting authorities will be convinced by ethics or morality of the ends justifying the means.

Maybe its best to let the BBC report the current situation. See article from bbc.com

 

 

Well if they legislate without giving a shit about the safety and privacy of porn users...

WebUser magazine kindly informs readers how to avoid being endangered by age verification


Link Here 13th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
The legislators behind the Digital Economy Act couldn't be bothered to include any provisions for websites and age verifiers to keep the identity and browsing history of porn users safe. It has now started to dawn on the authorities that this was a mistake. They are currently implementing a voluntary kitemark scheme to try and assure users that porn website's and age verifier's claims of keeping data safe can be borne out.

It is hardly surprising that significant numbers of people are likely to be interested in avoiding having to register their identity details before being able to access porn.

It seems obvious that information about VPNs and Tor will therefore be readily circulated amongst any online community with an interest in keeping safe. But perhaps it is a little bit of a shock to see it is such large letters in a mainstream magazine on the shelves of supermarkets and newsagents.

And perhaps anther thought is that once the BBFC starting ISPs to block non-compliant websites then circumvention will be the only way see your blocked favourite websites. So people stupidly signing up to age verification will have less access to porn and a worse service than those that circumvent it.

 

 

Mid90s...

Irish cinema distributors successfully appeal against an 18 rating for a skateboard themed film


Link Here 13th April 2019
Mid90s is a 2018 USA comedy drama by Jonah Hill.
Starring Sunny Suljic, Katherine Waterston and Lucas Hedges. BBFC link IMDb

The movie follows a teenager named Stevie growing up in Los Angeles. He's struggling with his family, including his co-dependent single mom and his abusive older brother, and at school, where his richer friends seem to overlook him. When Stevie befriends a crew of skateboarders, he learns some tough lessons about class, race, and privilege.

Mid90s was originally given an 18 rated by the Irish Film Classification Office. However the film's distributors successfully appealed the decision and the rating was reduced to 16. Probably a good job as an adults only skateboard movie may have had a limited appeal.

For comparison:

  • US: MPAA R rated for pervasive language, sexual content, drug and alcohol use, some violent behavior/disturbing images - all involving minors
  • UK: Passed 15 uncut for strong language, drug misuse, self-harm, violence

 

 

Nasty in Blu...

Video Nasties Beast in Heat and Cannibal Apocalypse lined up for their first Blu-ray releases


Link Here 13th April 2019
The Beast in Heat is a 1977 Italian Naziploitation by Luigi Batzella
With Macha Magall, Gino Turini and Edilio Kim.
YouTube icon IMDb
Banned as a video nasty in 1983. Not released in the UK since. Uncut and MPAA Unrated in the US.

Lady SS doctor tortures POWs in her charge and feeds the females to a crazed midget troll kept on a diet of mega-aphrodisiacs. The POWs finally get the upper hand and give her a taste of her own medicine.

Instagram account @dawnofthediscs noticed that Severin's new Hemisphere Box of Horror includes a 2019 Severin catalogue with a coming soon section that lists Luigi Batzella's The Beast in Heat. It will be getting its first Blu-ray release and will be released on DVD too.

Cannibal Apocalypse is a 1980 Italian/Spanish horror by Anthony M Dawson. With John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner and Giovanni Lombardo Radice. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb
Banned as a video nasty in 1982. Passed 18 after animal cruelty cuts for UK DVD. Uncut in the US.

Cannibalism has become a disease brought back to the US by soldiers returning from Vietnam. French kissing becomes inadvisable as the plague spreads.

Cannibal Apocalypse is also getting its first blu-ray treatment by Kino Lorber under the title of Invasion of the Flesh Hunters. It will be a new restoration from a 4k source.

 

 

A few complaints about pre-watershed body images...

Non sexual nudity with a theme of more positive attitude to body image airs before the watershed


Link Here 13th April 2019
Viewers of Channel 4's Naked Beach were treated to a little pre-watershed nudity last Thursday evening at 8pm.

The premise of the show is based on a social experiment, which sees a group of people visit a Greek island retreat to overcome their body image issues over the coming weeks. They are encouraged to feel good within themselves, covering their modesty with just body paint and glitter.

A few viewers to Twitter eg:

Why have I just turned on my TV and seeing a naked penis before 9pm?

And about 16 complained to TV censor Ofcom. An Ofcom spokesperson told pretty52.com :

We are assessing these complaints against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate.

This is not quite the stock phrase Ofcom uses when dismissing whinges out of hand, so maybe they will consider this further.

Naked Beach airs again on Channel 4 at 8pm next Thursday.

 

 

Please don't give the British government ideas...

Russian parliament passes law to put the internet censor in control of access to foreign websites


Link Here 12th April 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
Russia took another step toward government control over the internet on Thursday, as lawmakers approved a bill that will open the door to sweeping censorship.

The legislation is designed to route web traffic through servers controlled by Roskomnadzor, the state communications censor, increasing its power to control information and block messaging or other applications.

It also provides for Russia to create its own system of domain names that would allow the internet to continue operating within the country, even if it were cut off from the global web.

The bill is expected to receive final approval before the end of the month. Once signed into law by Mr. Putin, the bulk of it will go into effect on Nov. 1.

 

 

Updated Comments: The UK Government harms the British people...

The press and campaigners call out the Online Harms white paper for what it is...censorship


Link Here 12th April 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
Newspapers and the press have generally given the new internet censorship proposals a jistifiable negative reception:

The Guardian

See Internet crackdown raises fears for free speech in Britain from theguardian.com

Critics of the government's flagship internet regulation policy are warning it could lead to a North Korean-style censorship regime, where regulators decide which websites Britons are allowed to visit, because of how broad the proposals are.

The Daily Mail

See New internet regulation laws will lead to widespread censorship from dailymail.co.uk

Critics brand new internet regulation laws the most draconian crackdown in the Western democratic world as they warn it could threaten the freedom of speech of millions of Britons

The Independent

See UK's new internet plans could bring state censorship of the internet, campaigners warn from independent. co.uk

The government's new proposals to try and protect people from harm on the internet could actually create a huge censorship operation, campaigners have warned.

Index on Censorship

See Online harms proposals pose serious risks to freedom of expressionfrom indexoncensorship.org

Index on Censorship has raised strong concerns about the government's focus on tackling unlawful and harmful online content, particularly since the publication of the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper in 2017. In October 2018, Index published a joint statement with Global Partners Digital and Open Rights Group noting that any proposals that regulate content are likely to have a significant impact on the enjoyment and exercise of human rights online, particularly freedom of expression.

We have also met with officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as from the Home Office, to raise our thoughts and concerns.

With the publication of the Online Harms White Paper , we would like to reiterate our earlier points.

While we recognise the government's desire to tackle unlawful content online, the proposals mooted in the white paper -- including a new duty of care on social media platforms , a regulatory body , and even the fining and banning of social media platforms as a sanction -- pose serious risks to freedom of expression online.

These risks could put the United Kingdom in breach of its obligations to respect and promote the right to freedom of expression and information as set out in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, amongst other international treaties.

Social media platforms are a key means for tens of millions of individuals in the United Kingdom to search for, receive, share and impart information, ideas and opinions. The scope of the right to freedom of expression includes speech which may be offensive, shocking or disturbing . The proposed responses for tackling online safety may lead to disproportionate amounts of legal speech being curtailed, undermining the right to freedom of expression.

In particular, we raise the following concerns related to the white paper:

  • Lack of evidence base

The wide range of different harms which the government is seeking to tackle in this policy process require different, tailored responses. Measures proposed must be underpinned by strong evidence, both of the likely scale of the harm and the measures' likely effectiveness. The evidence which formed the base of the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper was highly variable in its quality. Any legislative or regulatory measures should be supported by clear and unambiguous evidence of their need and effectiveness.

  • Duty of care concerns/ problems with 'harm' definition

Index is concerned at the use of a duty of care regulatory approach. Although social media has often been compared the public square, the duty of care model is not an exact fit because this would introduce regulation -- and restriction -- of speech between individuals based on criteria that is far broader than current law. A failure to accurately define "harmful" content risks incorporating legal speech, including political expression, expressions of religious views, expressions of sexuality and gender, and expression advocating on behalf of minority groups.

  • Risks in linking liability/sanctions to platforms over third party content

While well-meaning, proposals such as these contain serious risks, such as requiring or incentivising wide-sweeping removal of lawful and innocuous content. The imposition of time limits for removal, heavy sanctions for non-compliance or incentives to use automated content moderation processes only heighten this risk, as has been evidenced by the approach taken in Germany via its Network Enforcement Act (or NetzDG), where there is evidence of the over-removal of lawful content.

  • Lack of sufficient protections for freedom of expression.

The obligation to protect users' rights online that is included in the white paper gives insufficient weight to freedom of expression. A much clearer obligation to protect freedom of expression should guide development of future regulation.

In recognition of the UK's commitment to the multistakeholder model of internet governance, we hope all relevant stakeholders, including civil society experts on digital rights and freedom of expression, will be fully engaged throughout the development of the Online Harms bill.

Privacy International

See  PI's take on the UK government's new proposal to tackle "online harms" from privacyinternational.org

PI welcomes the UK government's commitment to investigating and holding companies to account. When it comes to regulating the internet, however, we must move with care. Failure to do so will introduce, rather than reduce, "online harms". A 12-week consultation on the proposals has also been launched today. PI plans to file a submission to the consultation as it relates to our work. Given the breadth of the proposals, PI calls on others respond to the consultation as well.

Here are our initial suggestions:

  • proceed with care: proposals of regulation of content on digital media platforms should be very carefully evaluated, given the high risks of negative impacts on expression, privacy and other human rights. This is a very complex challenge and we support the need for broad consultation before any legislation is put forward in this area.

  • do not lose sight of how data exploitation facilitates the harms identified in the report and ensure any new regulator works closely with others working to tackle these issues.

  • assess carefully the delegation of sole responsibility to companies as adjudicators of content. This would empower corporate judgment over content, with would have implications for human rights, particularly freedom of expression and privacy.

  • require that judicial or other independent authorities, rather than government agencies, are the final arbiters of decisions regarding what is posted online and enforce such decisions in a manner that is consistent with human rights norms.

  • assess the privacy implications of any demand for "proactive" monitoring of content in digital media platforms.

  • ensure that any requirement or expectation of deploying automated decision making/AI is in full compliance with existing human rights and data protection standards (which, for example, prohibit, with limited exceptions, relying on solely automated decisions, including profiling, when they significantly affect individuals).

  • ensure that company transparency reports include information related to how the content was targeted at users.

  • require companies to provide efficient reporting tools in multiple languages, to report on action taken with regard to content posted online. Reporting tools should be accessible, user-friendly, and easy to find. There should be full transparency regarding the complaint and redress mechanisms available and opportunities for civil society to take action.

Offsite Comment: Ridiculous Plan

10th April 2019. See article from techdirt.com

UK Now Proposes Ridiculous Plan To Fine Internet Companies For Vaguely Defined Harmful Content

Last week Australia rushed through a ridiculous bill to fine internet companies if they happen to host any abhorrent content. It appears the UK took one look at that nonsense and decided it wanted some too. On Monday it released a white paper calling for massive fines for internet companies for allowing any sort of online harms. To call the plan nonsense is being way too harsh to nonsense

The plan would result in massive, widespread, totally unnecessary censorship solely for the sake of pretending to do something about the fact that some people sometimes do not so nice things online. And it will place all of the blame on the internet companies for the (vaguely defined) not so nice things that those companies' users might do online.

Read the full article from techdirt.com

Offsite Comment: Sajid Javid's new internet rules will have a chilling effect on free speech

11th April 2019. See article from spectator.co.uk by Toby Young

How can the government prohibit comments that might cause harm without defining what harm is?

Offsite Comment: Plain speaking from Chief Censor Sajid Javid

11th April 2019. See tweet from twitter.com

Letter to the Guardian: Online Harms white paper would make Chinese censors proud

11th April 2019. See article from theguardian.com

We agree with your characterisation of the online harms white paper as a flawed attempt to deal with serious problems (Regulating the internet demands clear thought about hard problems, Editorial, 9 April). However, we would draw your attention to several fundamental problems with the proposal which could be disastrous if it proceeds in its current form.

Firstly, the white paper proposes to regulate literally the entire internet, and censor anything non-compliant. This extends to blogs, file services, hosting platforms, cloud computing; nothing is out of scope.

Secondly, there are a number of undefined harms with no sense of scope or evidence thresholds to establish a need for action. The lawful speech of millions of people would be monitored, regulated and censored.

The result is an approach that would make China's state censors proud. It would be very likely to face legal challenge. It would give the UK the widest and most prolific internet censorship in an apparently functional democracy. A fundamental rethink is needed.

Antonia Byatt Director, English PEN,
Silkie Carlo Big Brother Watch
Thomas Hughes Executive director, Article 19
Jim Killock Executive director, Open Rights Group
Joy Hyvarinen Head of advocacy, Index on Censorship

Comment: The DCMS Online Harms Strategy must design in fundamental rights

12th April 2019. See article from openrightsgroup.org

Increasingly over the past year, DCMS has become fixated on the idea of imposing a duty of care on social media platforms, seeing this as a flexible and de-politicised way to emphasise the dangers of exposing children and young people to certain online content and make Facebook in particular liable for the uglier and darker side of its user-generated material.

DCMS talks a lot about the 'harm' that social media causes. But its proposals fail to explain how harm to free expression impacts would be avoided.

On the positive side, the paper lists free expression online as a core value to be protected and addressed by the regulator. However, despite the apparent prominence of this value, the mechanisms to deliver this protection and the issues at play are not explored in any detail at all.

In many cases, online platforms already act as though they have a duty of care towards their users. Though the efficacy of such measures in practice is open to debate, terms and conditions, active moderation of posts and algorithmic choices about what content is pushed or downgraded are all geared towards ousting illegal activity and creating open and welcoming shared spaces. DCMS hasn't in the White Paper elaborated on what its proposed duty would entail. If it's drawn narrowly so that it only bites when there is clear evidence of real, tangible harm and a reason to intervene, nothing much will change. However, if it's drawn widely, sweeping up too much content, it will start to act as a justification for widespread internet censorship.

If platforms are required to prevent potentially harmful content from being posted, this incentivises widespread prior restraint. Platforms can't always know in advance the real-world harm that online content might cause, nor can they accurately predict what people will say or do when on their platform. The only way to avoid liability is to impose wide-sweeping upload filters. Scaled implementation of this relies on automated decision-making and algorithms, which risks even greater speech restrictions given that machines are incapable of making nuanced distinctions or recognising parody or sarcasm.

DCMS's policy is underpinned by societally-positive intentions, but in its drive to make the internet "safe", the government seems not to recognise that ultimately its proposals don't regulate social media companies, they regulate social media users. The duty of care is ostensibly aimed at shielding children from danger and harm but it will in practice bite on adults too, wrapping society in cotton wool and curtailing a whole host of legal expression.

Although the scheme will have a statutory footing, its detail will depend on codes of practice drafted by the regulator. This makes it difficult to assess how the duty of care framework will ultimately play out.

The duty of care seems to be broadly about whether systemic interventions reduce overall "risk". But must the risk be always to an identifiable individual, or can it be broader - to identifiable vulnerable groups? To society as a whole? What evidence of harm will be required before platforms should intervene? These are all questions that presently remain unanswered.

DCMS's approach appears to be that it will be up to the regulator to answer these questions. But whilst a sensible regulator could take a minimalist view of the extent to which commercial decisions made by platforms should be interfered with, allowing government to distance itself from taking full responsibility over the fine detailing of this proposed scheme is a dangerous principle. It takes conversations about how to police the internet out of public view and democratic forums. It enables the government to opt not to create a transparent, judicially reviewable legislative framework. And it permits DCMS to light the touch-paper on a deeply problematic policy idea without having to wrestle with the practical reality of how that scheme will affect UK citizens' free speech, both in the immediate future and for years to come.

How the government decides to legislate and regulate in this instance will set a global norm.

The UK government is clearly keen to lead international efforts to regulate online content. It knows that if the outcome of the duty of care is to change the way social media platforms work that will apply worldwide. But to be a global leader, DCMS needs to stop basing policy on isolated issues and anecdotes and engage with a broader conversation around how we as society want the internet to look. Otherwise, governments both repressive and democratic are likely to use the policy and regulatory model that emerge from this process as a blueprint for more widespread internet censorship.

The House of Lords report on the future of the internet, published in early March 2019, set out ten principles it considered should underpin digital policy-making, including the importance of protecting free expression. The consultation that this White Paper introduces offers a positive opportunity to collectively reflect, across industry, civil society, academia and government, on how the negative aspects of social media can be addressed and risks mitigated. If the government were to use this process to emphasise its support for the fundamental right to freedom of expression - and in a way that goes beyond mere expression of principle - this would also reverberate around the world, particularly at a time when press and journalistic freedom is under attack.

The White Paper expresses a clear desire for tech companies to "design in safety". As the process of consultation now begins, we call on DCMS to "design in fundamental rights". Freedom of expression is itself a framework, and must not be lightly glossed over. We welcome the opportunity to engage with DCMS further on this topic: before policy ideas become entrenched, the government should consider deeply whether these will truly achieve outcomes that are good for everyone.

 

 

Offsite Article: Cut! Is this the death of sex in cinema?...


Link Here 12th April 2019
The number of films classified 18 for sex has plummeted. We explore how studio pressure, #MeToo nerves and the proliferation of porn created a new puritanism

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Offsite Article: DNS over HTTPS...


Link Here 12th April 2019
A new internet technology will make it more difficult for ISPs to block websites

See article from ispreview.co.uk

 

 

Vote Texit...Tory Exit...

Culture of Censorship Secretary Jeremy Wright tells British people not worry about the proposed end to their free speech because newspapers will still be allowed free speech


Link Here 11th April 2019
The Daily Mail writes:

Totalitarian-style new online code that could block websites and fine them 2£20million for harmful content will not limit press freedom, Culture Secretary promises

Government proposals have sparked fears that they could backfire and turn Britain into the first Western nation to adopt the kind of censorship usually associated with totalitarian regimes.

Former culture secretary John Whittingdale drew parallels with China, Russia and North Korea. Matthew Lesh of the Adam Smith Institute, a free market think-tank, branded the white paper a historic attack on freedom of speech.

[However] draconian laws designed to tame the web giants will not limit press freedom, the Culture Secretary said yesterday.

In a letter to the Society of Editors, Jeremy Wright vowed that journalistic or editorial content would not be affected by the proposals.

And he reassured free speech advocates by saying there would be safeguards to protect the role of the Press.

But as for the safeguarding the free speech rights of ordinary British internet users, he more or less told them they could fuck off!

 

 

The Internet Archive reports on shoddy EU identification of terrorist content...

EU Agencies Falsely Report More Than 550 Archive.org URLs as Terrorist Content


Link Here 11th April 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU introduces swathes of internet censorship law

The European Parliament is set to vote on legislation that would require websites that host user-generated content to take down material reported as terrorist content within one hour. We have some examples of current notices sent to the Internet Archive that we think illustrate very well why this requirement would be harmful to the free sharing of information and freedom of speech that the European Union pledges to safeguard.

In the past week, the Internet Archive has received a series of email notices from Europol's European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) falsely identifying hundreds of URLs on archive.org as terrorist propaganda. At least one of these mistaken URLs was also identified as terrorist content in a separate take down notice from the French government's L'Office Central de Lutte contre la Criminalit39 li39e aux Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC).

The Internet Archive has a few staff members that process takedown notices from law enforcement who operate in the Pacific time zone. Most of the falsely identified URLs mentioned here (including the report from the French government) were sent to us in the middle of the night 203 between midnight and 3am Pacific 203 and all of the reports were sent outside of the business hours of the Internet Archive.

The one-hour requirement essentially means that we would need to take reported URLs down automatically and do our best to review them after the fact.

It would be bad enough if the mistaken URLs in these examples were for a set of relatively obscure items on our site, but the EU IRU's lists include some of the most visited pages on archive.org and materials that obviously have high scholarly and research value. See a summary below with specific examples.

See example falsely reported URLs at article from blog.archive.org

 

 

The Great British Firewall...

Zippyshare blocks itself from UK access


Link Here 11th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
Zippyshare is a long running data locker and file sharing platform that is well known particularly for the distribution of porn.

Last month UK users noted that they have been blocked from accessing the website and that it can now only be accessed via a VPN.

Zippyshare themselves has made no comment about the block, but TorrentFreak have investigated the censorship and have determined that the block is self imposed and is not down to action by UK courts or ISPs.

Alan wonders if this is a premature reaction to the Great British Firewall, noting it's quite a popular platform for free porn.

Of course it poses the interesting question that if websites generally decide to address the issue of UK porn censorship by self imposed blocks, then keen users will simply have to get themselves VPNs. Being willing to sign up for age verification simply won't work. Perhaps VPNs will be next to mandatory for British porn users, and age verification will become an unused technology.

 

 

A censorship cliffhanger...

Advert censor bans Macallan whiskey advert with a man sprouting wings whilst falling


Link Here 10th April 2019

A TV ad, video on demand (VOD) ad and a paid-for ad on Instagram for Macallan whisky, seen in December 2018:

  • a. The TV ad featured a man leaping off a cliff and tumbling towards the ground. As he fell, feathers started sprouting out of his arms and he began to grow wings. On-screen text stated Would you risk falling ... for the chance to fly?. As he approached the ground he disappeared from view behind a mountainside and then reappeared after he had pulled out of the nosedive and started to fly upwards now that his wings were fully grown. An end-frame featured text stating The Macallan. Make the call which was accompanied by an image of the whisky product in a glass.

  • b. The VOD ad, seen on the ITV hub, was a longer version of ad (a), but featured similar imagery and on-screen text. Unlike ad (a), that ad did not feature an image of the whisky product.

  • c. The paid-for ad on Instagram featured a video that was identical to ad (b). Issue

Six complainants challenged whether the ads were irresponsible and linked alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.

Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan explained that the line Make The Call was used globally to describe the brand's philosophy. It was used in relation to the decisions that the brand had made in its own history, and was also relevant to the audience's decisions made in their own lives. They said the ads featured a fantastical story about a man who took a big decision (i.e. made a call), found it difficult along the way, but was eventually rewarded. They believed the treatment of the story was mystical, almost mythical, and was clearly removed from the real world.

In relation to ad (a), Clearcast explained that they had considered the daring and toughness Code rule when clearing the ad, and had decided that the treatment was fantastical enough to be acceptable.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA noted that the opening scene in all versions of the ad featured the man running and jumping off a cliff, and considered that could be seen as being reminiscent of the extreme sport of base-jumping. We noted that at that point in the ads, there was no suggestion that the male character had any super-human attributes or powers, or that he was part of a mythical world; we considered the scenery featured was a typical mountainous landscape. We noted that in ads (b) and (c) the character was seen peering over the edge of the cliff and there was a close-up of him clenching his fists. We considered that gave the impression that he was nervous about jumping and was building up the courage to do so. In that context, we considered that the act of jumping off the cliff was very dangerous, potentially fatal, and consisted of extreme risk-taking behaviour. That impression was compounded by the text Would you risk falling ... for the chance to fly?.

Whilst we acknowledged that some elements of the ad were fantastical, such as the distance the man fell through the clouds, and the sprouting of wings which enabled him to fly away instead of hitting the ground, we considered, nevertheless, that the central message of the ad, which was explicitly highlighted through the tagline Would you risk falling ... for the chance to fly?, was one of promoting risky or daring behaviour to reap possible rewards. Although the character was not seen consuming alcohol at any point, we considered the ads made a clear association between an alcoholic product and potentially very dangerous, daring behaviour and concluded that they were irresponsible.

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan to ensure in future their ads did not link alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.

 

 

Yes YOU are the product...

Facebook agrees to make it clear to users that the company makes its living by profiling users for advertising purposes


Link Here 10th April 2019

Facebook changes its terms and clarify its use of data for consumers following discussions with the European Commission and consumer authorities

The European Commission and consumer protection authorities have welcomed Facebook's updated terms and services. They now clearly explain how the company uses its users' data to develop profiling activities and target advertising to finance their company.

The new terms detail what services, Facebook sells to third parties that are based on the use of their user's data, how consumers can close their accounts and under what reasons accounts can be disabled. These developments come after exchanges, which aimed at obtaining full disclosure of Facebook's business model in a comprehensive and plain language to users.

Vera Jourova , Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality welcomed the agreement:

Today Facebook finally shows commitment to more transparency and straight forward language in its terms of use. A company that wants to restore consumers trust after the Facebook/ Cambridge Analytica scandal should not hide behind complicated, legalistic jargon on how it is making billions on people's data. Now, users will clearly understand that their data is used by the social network to sell targeted ads. By joining forces, the consumer authorities and the European Commission, stand up for the rights of EU consumers.

In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and as a follow-up to the investigation on social media platforms in 2018 , the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities requested Facebook to clearly inform consumers how the social network gets financed and what revenues are derived from the use of consumer data. They also requested the platform to bring the rest of its terms of service in line with EU Consumer Law.

As a result, Facebook will introduce new text in its Terms and Services explaining that it does not charge users for its services in return for users' agreement to share their data and to be exposed to commercial advertisements. Facebook's terms will now clearly explain that their business model relies on selling targeted advertising services to traders by using the data from the profiles of its users.

In addition, following the enforcement action, Facebook has also amended:

  • its policy on limitation of liability and now acknowledges its responsibility in case of negligence, for instance in case data has been mishandled by third parties;

  • its power to unilaterally change terms and conditions by limiting it to cases where the changes are reasonable also taking into account the interest of the consumer;

  • the rules concerning the temporary retention of content which has been deleted by consumers. Such content can only be retained in specific cases 203 for instance to comply with an enforcement request by an authority 203 and for a maximum of 90 days in case of technical reasons;

  • the language clarifying the right to appeal of users when the their content has been removed.

Facebook will complete the implementation of all commitments at the latest by the end of June 2019.

 

 

Kinky Stunt...

Ofcom dismisses a few whinges about Russell Brand's Cosmic Vagina


Link Here 10th April 2019
Russell Brand's vagina biscuit sculpture on Great Celebrity British Bake Off has prompted complaints.

Russell was named star baker after creating a scene representing his wife giving birth, naming the creation the Portal to all life.

The edible treat kicked off a number of whinges to TV censor Ofco , with complainers claiming the stunt fell below generally accepted standards.

However, Ofcom has cleared the show of any wrongdoing.

We considered a small number of complaints about comments in this charity baking competition. In our view the remarks were light-hearted and not sexually explicit.

 

 

The aggressive Academia Gang speaks out...

US professor of gender and toxic masculinity has a rant about Peaky Blinders


Link Here 9th April 2019
British-born academic Dr George Sandra Larke-Walsh, of the University of North Texas, has published a paper claiming writers of the TV series Peaky Blinders use the war as an excuse to justify and romanticise violent behaviour.

Larke-Walsh said the show justified the brutal violence by portraying the characters as damaged by World War One. She claims the characters, including Cillian Murphy's gang leader Tommy Shelby, are all shown to be damaged by the war to excuse their criminal actions.

Larke-Walsh also claims they are made out as Robin Hood-esque characters fighting for survival in a corrupt world while they also use the Shelby family's gypsy heritage as a distraction. She writes:

[Peaky Blinders] utilises nostalgia for nationalism, enacted within displays of extreme aggression as well as promoting regressive masculine ideals ... In the current sociopolitical environment, and associated concerns about the prevalence of toxic masculinity, such presentations no longer feel safely confined to fantasy.

The paper, titled The King's shilling: How Peaky Blinders also claims the show uses Murphy's naked body to elicit homosexual desire but then asserts heterosexuality through brutal violence. Larke-Walsh added:

There is no doubt that all audiences are meant to find the characters visually attractive. It is a feature of regressive masculinity that homosexuality must be denied.

The drama has won a host of awards and has an average audience of around 4 million per episode.

 

 

A day in the life of transgender children, gay bunnies and conservative politicians...

The American Library Association publishes its annual list of the most challenged books of 2018


Link Here 9th April 2019
The American Library Association (ALA) has released its annual list of most challenged books. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom chose the 11 most challenged works among 483 books that were either banned or restricted from public access in 2018.

Here is the complete list for 2018 and the reasons why the works were challenged --

  • George by Alex Gino -- The book, which was written for elementary-age children in 2015, was found offensive as its protagonist was a transgender child. Most recently, the Wichita, Kansas, school system decided to ban the book from the district libraries citing that the work had references and language that wasn't appropriate for schoolchildren. The book also made it to ALA's list in 2016 and '17. The work is also believed to "encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones."
  • A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller -- The best-selling parody by John Oliver, which was written by "Last Week Tonight" staffer Jill Twiss, was in response to the book "Marlon Bundo's Day in the Life of the Vice President" by Charlotte Pence, Vice President Mike Pence's daughter. The work pictured Pence's pet rabbit as gay and also criticized the family's conservative social viewpoint.
  • Captain Underpants series, written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey -- The 10-part series revolves around two young boys creating a superhero. A complaint was filed against the book with the Office for Intellectual Freedom stating that the language used in it was not appropriate for the targeted age group. The book also allegedly promoted "disruptive behavior.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas -- The novel, which revolves around the life of a young girl who became an activist after her unarmed friend was killed by a police officer, was deemed "anti-cop." A complaint was filed against the book for explicit language and featuring drug use.
  • Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier -- The 2012 graphic novel was banned in school libraries for featuring LGBTQ characters and themes. The work featured in ALA's previous lists for having offensive political viewpoints and for being sexually explicit.
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher -- The work, which was originally published in 2007, came under the scanner after Netflix aired a series with the same name in 2017. The book's depiction of suicide was the primary reason for it being banned. The book was deemed unsuited for children and teens as it featured drug and alcohol use. It was also challenged for its sexual content.
  • This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki -- The work, which topped ALA's list in 2016, was banned for featuring LGBTQ characters. The book revolves around the life of a teen girl who navigates the start of adolescence with the help of a female friend. The book was also challenged for drug use, profanity and having sexually explicit themes.
  • Skippyjon Jones series written and illustrated by Judy Schachner -- The series, which features a Siamese cat that assumes to be a Chihuahua, was criticized for depicting Mexican stereotypes.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie -- The work has featured in ALA's list six times since its publication in 2007 for its sexual references, depiction of alcoholism, bullying and poverty. It was also deemed sexually explicit and challenged in school curriculums.
  • This Day In June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten -- The children's picture book about a gay pride parade was challenged for including LGBTQ content.
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan -- The book, which was about two teen boys participating in a 32-hour marathon of kissing in order to set a new Guinness World Record, was considered sexually explicit as the book's cover page has an image of two boys kissing. It was also banned for the LGBTQ content.

 

 

Offsite Article: The History Of The Mondo Movie...


Link Here 9th April 2019
Part One: From Mondo Cane To Africa Addio

See article from reprobatepress.com

 

 

Ensuring that the UK is the most censored place in the western world to be online...

Government introduces an enormous package of internet censorship proposals


Link Here 8th April 2019
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media
  The Government writes:

In the first online safety laws of their kind, social media companies and tech firms will be legally required to protect their users and face tough penalties if they do not comply.

As part of the Online Harms White Paper, a joint proposal from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Home Office, a new independent regulator will be introduced to ensure companies meet their responsibilities.

This will include a mandatory 'duty of care', which will require companies to take reasonable steps to keep their users safe and tackle illegal and harmful activity on their services. The regulator will have effective enforcement tools, and we are consulting on powers to issue substantial fines, block access to sites and potentially to impose liability on individual members of senior management.

A range of harms will be tackled as part of the Online Harms White Paper , including inciting violence and violent content, encouraging suicide, disinformation, cyber bullying and children accessing inappropriate material.

There will be stringent requirements for companies to take even tougher action to ensure they tackle terrorist and child sexual exploitation and abuse content.

The new proposed laws will apply to any company that allows users to share or discover user generated content or interact with each other online. This means a wide range of companies of all sizes are in scope, including social media platforms, file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services, and search engines.

A regulator will be appointed to enforce the new framework. The Government is now consulting on whether the regulator should be a new or existing body. The regulator will be funded by industry in the medium term, and the Government is exploring options such as an industry levy to put it on a sustainable footing.

A 12 week consultation on the proposals has also been launched today. Once this concludes we will then set out the action we will take in developing our final proposals for legislation.

Tough new measures set out in the White Paper include:

  • A new statutory 'duty of care' to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services.

  • Further stringent requirements on tech companies to ensure child abuse and terrorist content is not disseminated online.

  • Giving a regulator the power to force social media platforms and others to publish annual transparency reports on the amount of harmful content on their platforms and what they are doing to address this.

  • Making companies respond to users' complaints, and act to address them quickly.

  • Codes of practice, issued by the regulator, which could include measures such as requirements to minimise the spread of misleading and harmful disinformation with dedicated fact checkers, particularly during election periods.

  • A new "Safety by Design" framework to help companies incorporate online safety features in new apps and platforms from the start.

  • A media literacy strategy to equip people with the knowledge to recognise and deal with a range of deceptive and malicious behaviours online, including catfishing, grooming and extremism.

The UK remains committed to a free, open and secure Internet. The regulator will have a legal duty to pay due regard to innovation, and to protect users' rights online, being particularly mindful to not infringe privacy and freedom of expression.

Recognising that the Internet can be a tremendous force for good, and that technology will be an integral part of any solution, the new plans have been designed to promote a culture of continuous improvement among companies. The new regime will ensure that online firms are incentivised to develop and share new technological solutions, like Google's "Family Link" and Apple's Screen Time app, rather than just complying with minimum requirements. Government has balanced the clear need for tough regulation with its ambition for the UK to be the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, and the new regulatory framework will provide strong protection for our citizens while driving innovation by not placing an impossible burden on smaller companies.

 

 

Offsite Article: Porn Wars...


Link Here 8th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
sex, Lies And The Battle To Control Britain's Internet. By David Flint

See article from reprobatepress.com

 

 

Community Spirit...

It's good to see the internet community pull together to work around censorship via age verification


Link Here 6th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
A TV channel, a porn producer, an age verifier and maybe even the government got together this week to put out a live test of age verification. The test was implemented on a specially created website featuring a single porn video.

The test required a well advertised website to provide enough traffic of viewers positively wanting to see the content. Channel 4 obliged with  its series Mums Make Porn. The series followed a group of mums making a porn video that they felt would be more sex positive and less harmful to kids than the more typical porn offerings currently on offer.

The mums did a good job and produced a decent video with a more loving and respectful interplay than is the norm. The video however is still proper hardcore porn and there is no way it could be broadcast on Channel 4. So the film was made available, free of charge, on its own dedicated website complete with an age verification requirement.

The website was announced as a live test for AgeChecked software to see how age verification would pan out in practice. It featured the following options for age verification

  1. entering full credit card details + email
  2. entering driving licence number + name and address + email
  3. mobile phone number + email (the phone must have been verified as 18+ by the service provider and must must be ready to receive an SMS message containing login details)

Nothing has been published in detail about the aims of the test but presumably they were interested in the basic questions such as:

  • What proportion of potential viewers will be put off by the age verification?
  • What proportion of viewers would be stupid enough to enter their personal data?
  • Which options of identification would be preferred by viewers?

 

The official test 'results'

Alastair Graham, CEO of AgeChecked provided a few early answers inevitably claiming that:

The results of this first mainstream test of our software were hugely encouraging.

He went on to claim that customers are willing to participate in the process, but noted that verified phone number method emerged as by far the most popular method of verification. He said that this finding would be a key part of this process moving forward.

Reading between the lines perhaps he was saying that there wasn't much appetite for handing over detailed personal identification data as required by the other two methods.

I suspect that we will never get to hear more from AgeChecked especially about any reluctance of people to identify themselves as porn viewers.

 

The unofficial test results

Maybe they were also interested in other questions too:

  • Will people try and work around the age verification requirements?
  • if people find weaknesses in the age verification defences, will they pass on their discoveries to others?

Interestingly the age verification requirement was easily sidestepped by those with a modicum of knowledge about downloading videos from websites such as YouTube and PornHub. The age verification mechanism effectively only hid the start button from view. The actual video remained available for download, whether people age verified or not. All it took was a little examination of the page code to locate the video. There are several tools that allow this: video downloader addons, file downloaders or just using the browser's built in debugger to look at the page code.

Presumably the code for the page was knocked up quickly so this flaw could have been a simple oversight that is not likely to occur in properly constructed commercial websites. Or perhaps the vulnerability was deliberately included as part of the test to see if people would pick up on it.

However it did identify that there is a community of people willing to stress test age verification restrictions and see if work rounds can be found and shared.

I noted on Twitter that several people had posted about the ease of downloading the video and had suggested a number of tools or methods that enabled this.

There was also an interesting article posted on achieving age verification using an expired credit card. Maybe that is not so catastrophic as it still identifies a cardholder as over 18, even if cannot be used to make a payment. But of course it may open new possibilities for misuse of old data. Note that random numbers are unlikely to work because of security algorithms. Presumably age verification companies could strengthen the security by testing that a small transaction works, but this intuitively this would have significant cost implications. I guess that to achieve any level of take up, age verification needs to be cheap for both websites and viewers.

 

Community Spirit

It was very heartening to see how many people were helpfully contributing their thoughts about testing the age verification software.

Over the course of a couple of hours reading, I learnt an awful lot about how websites hide and protect video content, and what tools are available to see through the protection. I suspect that many others will soon be doing the same... and I also suspect that young minds will be far more adept than I at picking up such knowledge.

 

A final thought

I feel a bit sorry for small websites who sell content. It adds a whole new level complexity as a currently open preview area now needs to be locked away behind an age verification screen. Many potential customers will be put off by having to jump through hoops just to see the preview material. To then ask them to enter all their credit card details again to subscribe, may be a hurdle too far.

 

 

Scary stuff: the government wanted a detailed log of your porn viewing history...

A report suggesting that government has (reluctantly) relaxed its requirements for internet porn age verifiers to keep a detailed log of people's porn access


Link Here 5th April 2019
Full story: BBFC Internet Porn Censors...BBFC: Age Verification We Don't Trust
In an interesting article on the Government age verification and internet porn censorship scheme, technology website Techdirt reports on the ever slipping deadlines.

Seemingly with detailed knowledge of government requirements for the scheme, Tim Cushing explains that up until recently the government has demand that age verification companies retain a site log presumably recording people's porn viewing history. He writes:

The government refreshed its porn blockade late last year, softening a few mandates into suggestions. But the newly-crafted suggestions were backed by the implicit threat of heavier regulation. All the while, the government has ignored the hundreds of critics and experts who have pointed out the filtering plan's numerous problems -- not the least of which is a government-mandated collection of blackmail fodder.

The government is no longer demanding retention of site logs by sites performing age verification, but it's also not telling companies they shouldn't retain the data. Companies likely will retain this data anyway, if only to ensure they have it on hand when the government inevitably changes it mind.

Cushing concludes with a comment perhaps suggesting that the Government wants a far more invasive snooping regime than commercial operators are able or willing to provide. He notes:

Shortly. April 1st will come and go with no porn filter. The next best guess is around Easter (April 21st). But I'd wager that date comes and goes as well with zero new porn filters. The UK government only knows what it wants. It has no idea how to get it. I

And it seems that some age verification companies are getting wound up by negative internet and press coverage of the dangers inherent in their services. @glynmoody tweeted:

I see age verification companies that will create the biggest database of people's porn preferences - perfect for blackmail - are now trying to smear people pointing out this is a stupid idea as deliberately creating a climate of fear and confusion about the technologies nope

 

 

Hellboy...

Australian distributors fail in their appeal for the film's 18 rating to be reduced to 15


Link Here 5th April 2019
Hellboy is a 2019 USA action Sci-Fi fantasy by Neil Marshall.
Starring Daniel Dae Kim, Milla Jovovich and David Harbour. BBFC link IMDb

Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.

In the UK the BBFC have passed the 2019 remake of Hellboy as 15 uncut for strong bloody violence, gore, language.

In Ireland the cinema release is 16 rated by IFCO for very strong bloody violence.

In the US the film was MPAA R rated for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, and language.

The film censors of the Australian Classification Board rated the film as R18+ (18 in UK terms) for High impact violence, blood and gore.

The Australian distributors felt that a lower rating was a possibility, and appealed to the Classification Review Board for an MA15+ (15A in UK terms).

However the Classification Review Board disagreed with the appeal and maintained the original rating of R18+ for High impact violence, blood and gore. The Review Board wrote:

A five-member panel of the Classification Review Board has unanimously determined that the film, Hellboy, is classified R 18+ (Restricted) with the consumer advice High impact violence, blood and gore.

In the Classification Review Board's opinion Hellboy warrants an R 18+ classification because the violence has a high impact. The overall impact of the classifiable elements in the film was high. It is the view of the Classification Review Board that the fantasy context does not mitigate the cumulative impact of the violence on a more vulnerable audience.

 

 

Offsite Article: Tip-toeing on Easter eggshells...


Link Here 5th April 2019
The advert censor is pandering to religious offence-taking. By Chris Sloggett

See article from secularism.org.uk

 

 

Spy Cat...

The latest children's film suffering BBFC category cuts for UK cinema release


Link Here 4th April 2019

Spy Cat is a 2018 Germany / Belgium family animation adventure by Christoph Lauenstein and Wolfgang Lauenstein.
Starring Alexandra Neldel and Axel Prahl. BBFC link IMDb

Four crazy antiheroes on the run. Their leader is the unworldly innocent, naive Marnie, a house cat who is not allowed to leave the house and only knows about real life from television. Based loosely on Grimms "The Bremen Town Musicians" a modern, hilarious road movie is told.

Passed U for very mild comic violence, rude humour, language after 57s of BBFC category cuts for 2019 cinema release.

The film had earlier been passed PG uncut for mild bad language, violence, rude humour.

The BBFC commented:
  • Company chose to make various cuts to receive a lower classification. Cuts were made to remove instances of mild bad language and word play on strong language, to remove mild sex references, to reduce scenes of mild rude humour, and to reduce sequences of mild violence and threat. An uncut PG classification was available.

 

 

The BBC's PC dilemma...

How to respect and tolerate religious people with disrespectful and intolerant views


Link Here 4th April 2019
BBC News staff have been told not to tweet personal views after an LGBT debate on Question Time. The BBC has emailed all news staff warning they could face internal sanctions if they express strong political views on Twitter.

BBC Breakfast presenter Ben Thompson was among the staff at the broadcaster who publicly criticised Question Time last week for allowing an audience member to ask the question: Is it morally right that five-year-old children learn about LGBTQ+ issues in school? The question referenced muslim protests at Birmingham and Manchester aschools where young children are being taught about diversity and family life.

Many LGBT members of staff at the BBC have privately told the Guardian of anger within the newsroom at how the BBC has allowed to turn the issue into a valid debate.

The BBC's director of news, Fran Unsworth, told staff :

We all have personal views, but it is part of our role with the BBC to keep those views private, she said in an email to staff. Our editorial guidelines say BBC staff must not advocate any particular position on a matter of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other 'controversial subject'. That applies to all comments in the public domain, including on social media. There is no real distinction between personal and official social media accounts.

We are living in a period of highly polarised opinions on a range of subjects and the BBC frequently faces criticism for the way we report and analyse events, with our impartiality called into question.

Many of these criticisms are unfounded and we are prepared to defend ourselves robustly where necessary. We also need to make sure our own house is in order.

 

 

Bird Box...

Cut by Netflix after the original release after social media pressure opposing footage of an actual train crash


Link Here 1st April 2019
Bird Box is a 2018 USA Sci-Fi horror thriller by Susanne Bier.
Starring Rosa Salazar, Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson. BBFC link IMDb

In the wake of an unknown global terror, a mother must find the strength to flee with her children down a treacherous river in search of safety. Due to unseen deadly forces, the perilous journey must be made blindly. Directed by Academy Award winner Susanne Bier, Bird Box is a thriller starring Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, and Trevante Rhodes.

Netflix announced in mid March 2019 that Netflix VoD would be cut going forwards for 2019 VoD.

The cuts follows months of social media pressure claiming that stock footage of a 2013 crash in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic was exploiting the victims of the tragedy. The crash involved a train carrying crude oil coming off the tracks and exploded into a ball of fire, killing 47 people.

Netflix said that it will replace the footage with fictional scenes from a former TV series in the U.S. The company said it is sorry for any pain caused to the Lac-Megantic community.

In the UK the film was passed 15 uncut by the BBFC for strong violence, threat, language, suicide scenes for UK cinema and VoD release prior to the announcement of cuts.

 

 

More bad censorship legislation from the EU...

Big names of the internet explain how the EU's Terrorist Content laws will be ineffective and will damage the non terrorist internet in the process


Link Here 1st April 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU introduces swathes of internet censorship law
A group of some of the best known internet pioneers have written an open letter explaining how the EU's censorship law nominally targeting  terrorism will both chill the non terrorist internet whilst simultaneously advantaging US internet giants over smaller European businesses. The group writes:

EU Terrorist Content regulation will damage the internet in Europe without meaningfully
contributing to the fight against terrorism

Dear MEP Dalton,
Dear MEP Ward,
Dear MEP Reda,

As a group of pioneers, technologists, and innovators who have helped create and sustain today’s internet,
we write to you to voice our concern at proposals under consideration in the EU Terrorist Content
regulation.

Tackling terrorism and the criminal actors who perpetrate it is a necessary public policy objective, and the internet plays an important role in achieving this end. The tragic and harrowing incident in Christchurch, New Zealand earlier this month has underscored the continued threat terrorism poses to our fundamental freedoms, and the need to confront it in all its forms. However, the fight against terrorism does not preclude lawmakers from their responsibility to implement evidence-based law that is proportionate, justified, and supportive of its stated aim.

The EU Terrorist Content regulation, if adopted as proposed, will restrict the basic rights of European internet users and undercut innovation on the internet without meaningfully contributing to the fight against terrorism. We are particularly concerned by the following aspects of the proposed Regulation:

  • ÂUnclear definition of terrorist content: The definition of 'terrorist content' is extremely broad, and includes no clear exemption for educational, journalistic, or research purposes. This creates the risk of over-removal of lawful and important public interest speech.
  • Lack of proportionality: The regulation applies equally to all internet hosting services, bringing thousands of services into scope that have no relevance to terrorist content. By not taking any account of the different types and sizes of online services, nor their exposure to such illegal content, the new rules would be far out of proportion with the stated aim of the proposal.
  • Unworkable takedown timeframes: The obligation to remove content within a mere 60 minutes of notification will likely lead to significant over-removal of lawful content and place a catastrophic compliance burden on micro, small, and medium-sized companies offering services within Europe. At the same time, it will greatly favour large multinational platforms that have already developed highly sophisticated content moderation operations
  • Reliance on upload filters and other ;proactive measures': The draft regulation frames automated upload filters as ethef solution for terrorist content moderation at scale, and provides government agencies with the power to mandate how such upload filters and other proactive measures are designed and implemented. But upload filtering of 'terrorist content' is fraught with challenges and risks, and only a handful of online services have the resources and capacity to build or license such technology. As such, the proposal is setting a benchmark that only the largest platforms can meet. Moreover, upload filtering and related proactive measures risks suppressing important public interest content, such as news reports about terrorist incidents and dispatches from warzones

We fully support efforts to combat dangerous and illegal information on the internet, including through new legislation where appropriate. Yet as currently drafted, this Regulation risks inflicting harm on free expression and due process, competition and the possibility to innovate online5.

Given these likely ramifications we urge you to undertake a proper assessment of the proposal and make the necessary changes to ensure that the perverse outcomes described above are not realised. At the very least, any legislation of this nature must include far greater rights protection and be built around a proportionality criterion that ensures companies of all sizes and types can comply and compete in Europe.

Citizens in Europe look to you for leadership in developing progressive policy that protects their rights, ensures their companies can compete, and protects their public interest. This legislation in its current form runs contrary to those ambitions. We urge you to amend it, for the sake of European citizens and for the sake of the internet. Yours sincerely,

 Mitchell Baker Executive Chairwoman, The Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation Tim Berners-Lee Inventor of the World Wide Web and Founder of the Web Foundation Vint Cerf Internet Pioneer Brewster Kahle Founder & Digital Librarian, Internet Archive Jimmy Wales Founder of Wikipedia and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation Markus Beckedahl Founder, Netzpolitik; Co-founder, re:publica Brian Behlendorf Member of the EFF Board of Directors; Executive Director of Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation Cindy Cohn Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation Cory Doctorow Author; Co-Founder of Open Rights Group; Visiting Professor at Open University (UK) Rebecca MacKinnon Co-founder, Global Voices; Director, Ranking Digital Rights Katherine Maher Chief Executive Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation Bruce Schneier Public-interest technologist; Fellow, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School

 

 

More bad censorship legislation from Australia...

Australia gets in on the act assuming that artificial intelligence is magic and can cure all society's ills


Link Here 1st April 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Australia...Wide ranging state internet censorship
The Australian Government have announced the introduction of a new bill aimed at imposing criminal liability on executives of social media platforms if they fail to remove abhorrent violent content. The hastily drafted legislation could have serious unintended consequences for human rights in Australia.

The rushed and secretive approach, the lack of proper open, democratic debate, and the placement of far-reaching and unclear regulatory measures on internet speech in the the criminal code are all matters of grave concern for digital rights groups, including Access Now and Digital Rights Watch.

Poorly designed criminal intermediary liability rules are not the right approach here, which the Government would know if it had taken the time to consult properly. It's simply wrong to assume that an amendment to the criminal code is going to solve the wider issue of content moderation on the internet, said Digital Rights Watch Chair, Tim Singleton Norton.

In particular, the lack of any public consultation is particularly worrisome as it shows that impacts on human rights were not likely to be considered by the government in drafting the text. Forcing companies to regulate content under threat of criminal liability is likely to lead to over-removal and censorship as the companies attempt their best to avoid jail-time for their executives or hefty fines on their turnover. Also worryingly, the bill could encourage online companies to constantly surveil internet users by requiring proactive measures for general content monitoring, a measure that would be a blow to free speech and privacy online. Lucie Krahulcova, Australia Policy Analyst at Access Now, said:

Reforming criminal law in a way that can heavily impact free expression online is unacceptable in a democracy. If Australian officials seek to ram through half-cooked fixes past Parliament without the proper expert advice and public scrutiny, the result is likely to be a law that undermines human rights. Last year's encryption-breaking powers are a prime example of this

Regulating online speech in a few days is a tremendous mistake. Rather than pushing through reactionary proposals that make for good talking points, the Australian government and members of Parliament should invest in a measured, paced participatory reflection carefully aimed at achieving their legitimate public policy goals.

The reality here is that there is no easy way to stop people from uploading or sharing links to videos of harmful content. No magic algorithm exists that can distinguish a violent massacre from videos of police brutality. The draft legislation creates a great deal of uncertainty that can only be dealt with by introducing measures that may harm important documentation of hateful conduct. In the past, measures like these have worked to harm, rather than protect, the interests of marginalised and vulnerable communities, said Mr. Singleton Norton.

This knee-jerk reaction will not make us safer or address the way that hatred circulates and grows in our society. We need to face up to the cause of this behaviour, and not look for quick fixes and authoritarian approaches to legislating over it, he concluded.

 

 

More bad censorship legislation from Singapore...

Singapore gets in on the act assuming that social media companies can detect and censor 'fake news'


Link Here 1st April 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Singapore...Heavy handed censorship control of news websites

Singapore is set to introduce a new anti-fake news law, allowing authorities to remove articles deemed to breach government regulations.

The law, being read in parliament this week will further stifle dissent in an already tightly-controlled media environment. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong suggested that the law would tackle the country's growing problem of online misinformation. It follows an examination of fake news in Singapore by a parliamentary committee last year, which concluded that the city-state was a target of hostile information campaigns.

Lee said the law will require media outlets to correct fake news articles, and show corrections or display warnings about online falsehoods so that readers or viewers can see all sides and make up their own minds about the matter. In extreme and urgent cases, the legislation will also require online news sources to take down fake news before irreparable damage is done.

Facebook, Twitter and Google have Asia headquarters in Singapore, with the companies expected to be under increased pressure to aid the law's implementation.

 

 

Feeding your face...

Facebook to explain to users why articles have been selected for their timelines


Link Here 1st April 2019
Facebook is set to begin telling its users why posts appear in their news feeds, presumably in response to government concerns over its influence over billions of people's reading habits.

The social network will today introduce a button on each post revealing why users are seeing it, including factors such as whether they have interacted often with the person who made the post or whether it is popular with other users.

It comes as part of a wider effort to make Facebook's systems more transparent and secure in advance of the EU elections in May and attempts by European and American politicians to regulate social media. John Hegeman, Facebook's vice president of news feed, told the Telegraph:

We hear from people frequently that they don't know how the news feed algorithm works, why things show up where they do, as well as how their data is used, This is a step towards addressing that.

We haven't done as much as we could do to explain to people how the products work and help them access this information... I can't blame people for being a little bit uncertain or suspicious.

We recognise how important the platform that Facebook has become now is in the world, and that means we have a responsibility to ensure that people who use it have a good experience and that it can't be used in ways that are harmful.

We are making decisions that are really important, and so we are trying to be more and more transparent... we want the external world to be able to hold us accountable.

 

 

Extract: Unfair stigma...

UK sex shop chain challenges Google over its ranking being pushed down due to being a sex shop whilst all its products are perfectly OK when sold by the likes of Amazon


Link Here 1st April 2019

Google has an unfair bias towards Ann Summers' domain name, making us significantly harder to find online than our lingerie competitors. Customers looking for our biggest category, lingerie, are actively diverted away from finding our website -- even if we shut up shop tomorrow and started selling sofas, this prejudice would not change.

In a recent Google search for Ann Summers lingerie -- in organic search, ignoring paid -- we were served Very, Amazon, Asos, Debenhams, Simply Be, House of Fraser and eBay before you got to our website, which sits depressingly on page two.

Google's argument is that Ann Summers is an adult retailer -- non family safe to use its terminology. Yes, we sell sex toys. But let me be clear, the products we are talking about in this context are our mainstream lingerie range. And, of course, we do not want to put inappropriate products in front of children.

Here's the irony. Ann Summers has a range of 293 sex toys. Amazon has over 50,000 sex products, many of them considerably more adult in their nature than those we sell.

Yet Google would not consider Amazon non family safe. Google would not impose the same restrictions on Amazon as it does on us. So, the good news is, Google's policy prevents my nine-year-old daughter searching for a sex toy from Ann Summers, but the bad news is she can buy a gimp mask from Amazon -- in fact, Alexa will even order it for her. Abuse of power

See full article from retail-week.com

 

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